ISU sleep expert gives tips on better rest

By WEEK Producer

ISU sleep expert gives tips on better rest

November 14, 2012 Updated Nov 14, 2012 at 1:55 PM CDT

NORMAL, Ill. -- Chances are, you're one of the millions of Americans who struggle with falling or staying asleep.

However, things like technology and use of over-the-counter sleep aids isn't helping the problem, says Teresa Valerio, an Illinois State University assistant professor and family nurse practitioner who studies and treats sleep issues.

"Sleep deprivation is widespread. We're not as alert; we have trouble concentrating and it affects our memory," said Valerio.

Though sleep deprivation can be detrimental to our health, Valerio says it is ultimately wearing down United States society.

"Sleep deprivation is dumbing us down as a society. We know that people who sleep six hours or less don't function as well," explained Valerio. "They have trouble concentrating and problem solving. They make more errors and have more accidents."

She says the United States is worse than many countries when it comes to quality sleep, partially because of our use of technology.

Valerio explains that light and sound activate the brain and the more active it is, the less likely sleep will come. Also, Valerio says many over-the-counter sleep aids have adverse side effects and are not a good option to get thorough, deep sleep.

Valerio suggests:
* Going to bed only when tired
* Covering the clock so you're not focused on time
* Insulating the bedroom
* Eating a light snack of 100 to 200 calories before bed if you're hungry
* Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco
* Using 30 minutes before bed to wind down with relaxation techniques

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